1717. Memories of a Journey to Italy

(The Cabinet II Project. Vol. I)

More than an exciting recording project!

1717. Memories of a Journey to Italy is not only an exciting new CD recording but the first step in the The Cabinet II Project, an ambitious project that includes five recordings (mostly world premiere recordings), editions of unpublished scores, and articles that accompany the discovery of a mostly forgotten repertoire contained in the private collection of Pisendel in the Dresden archive known as Cabinet II.

1717. Memories of a Journey to Italy. Program overview

Imagine that you have the opportunity to fill your suitcase with the best music of your time. What would you take and what would you leave? Remember you do not have room for everything and you have to choose! This is more or less what happened to Pisendel (the concertmaster of the Dresden orchestra and one of the greatest virtuosos of his era) during his trip to Italy in 1717. For almost a year the young Pisendel toured Italy and met the greatest masters of his time, and throughout his sojourn, he collected the best compositions he could find and filled his suitcase with them. Incidentally, he was forced to use a smaller type of paper, taking up less space in his suitcase and allowing him to transport more musical treasures to Dresden.

But there is more than just music behind these pieces: they tell of of a personal and intimate journey. In the Suonata à Solo fatto per Maestro Pisendel Del Vivaldi,  Vivaldi left empty space for Pisendel to complete the sonata with a movement of his own. In a mysterious sonata by Valentini, an autograph dedicated not to Pisendel but to Montanari (who was Pisendel’s teacher). How this valuable and personal score ended up in Pisendel’s hands is a mystery.

In addition, we have the exciting presentation of two world premiere recordings: a sonata by Pisendel that contains modifications by Montanari, and a sonata by Giuseppe Maria Fanfani that has not been performed since the eighteenth century.

“Pisendel’s journey through Italy is a story that deserves and has yet to be told”

Prof. Michael Talbot

This is the starting point of the next CD by the ensemble Scaramuccia and the first step of a very ambitious journey: The Cabinet II Project. By contributing to our campaign you will help us realise this project by helping to cover the many necessary costs of preparation, production and post-production.

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Antonio Lucio Vivaldi
Suonata à Solo fatto per  Maestro Pisendel Del Vivaldi (Sonata in G Major, RV 25)
Allegro – Grave (by Pisendel) – Allegro

Tomaso Albinoni
Sonata a Violino solo di me Tomaso Albinoni Composta p il Sig: Pisendel (Sonata in Bb Major, TalAl So32)
Adaggio – Allegro – Adagio – Allegro

Giuseppe Maria Fanfani [world premiere]
Solo Violino e Basso (Sonata in D Major)
Largo – Allegro – Larghetto – Tempo Giusto

Antonio Montanari
Sonata del Sig.r Ant. Montanari (Sonata in E Minor Mus.2767-R-2)
Largo – [without tempo] – [without tempo]

Giuseppe Valentini
La Montanari. Sonata per Camera a Violino solo, Dedicato al merito impareggiabile del Sig:re Antonio Montanari insigne Sonatore di Violino, Da un suo divoto servo ammiratore della sua virtù. (Sonata in A Major Mus.2387-R-5)
Preludio, Adagio – Allemanda, Allegro – Largo – Giga. Vivace affettuoso – Minuè

Johann Georg Pisendel/Antonio Montanari [world premiere]
Solo Violino e Basso (Sonata in E Major Mus.2421-R-18)
Largo – Allegro ma non tanto – Largo – Allegro assai


Pisendel was already a member of the Dresden Orchestra in 1712. In 1716 when Prince Elector of Saxony, later known as Augustus III of Poland, began his ritual training trip to Italy, he brought with him a selection of musicians from his orchestra, and Pisendel was among them. Pisendel used this trip to take lessons from the greatest Italian masters and to satisfy his musical curiosity. When he returned to Dresden in September 1717, his luggage was packed with scores and experiences. After that journey Dresden was never the same again; the Italian taste seized composers like Graun and Quantz and the binomial Dresden-Vivaldi was born, making Dresden one of the largest archives of Vivaldi’s music in the world, surpassed only by Turin’s.

Venice. Vivaldi and Albinoni

The Sonata RV 25 by Antonio Lucio Vivaldi is not only a work that demonstrates the originality and quality of one of the greatest composers of the Baroque, but it is also valuable evidence of the special bond that was formed between the Venetian master and the young Pisendel. It was Vivaldi himself who copied and dedicated the sonata to Pisendel; in his own handwriting he titled: “Suonata à Solo fatto p[er] Ma[estr]: Pisendel Del Vivaldi” (Sonata made for the master Pisendel by Vivaldi). But Vivaldi did not complete the sonata and left room for Pisendel to add a movement of his own creation. Thereby, we find, between the notes written by Vivaldi, a slow movement written in a different hand, that of Pisendel. The musical piece showcases the close relationship that arose between the two virtuosos.

It was during his stay in Venice that Pisendel met another of the great composers of the time, Tomaso Albinoni, who was also captivated by the German’s skills. As a result of this admiration we find in Pisendel’s luggage three autographed Albinoni Sonatas. The Sonata in B flat Major includes a special dedication to Pisendel, “Sonata a Violino solo di me Tomaso Albinoni Composta p il Sig: Pisendel”. The special technical and musical requirements of the sonata clearly show that it was written especially for the virtuoso Pisendel.

Rome. Montanari and Valentini

The Sonata in E minor by Antonio Montanari was probably copied in Rome when Pisendel sought the advice of this great violinist and teacher of Vivaldi himself. Antonio Montanari was defined as “virtuossisimo sonator di violino” by the famous Pier Leone Ghezzi, and one of the great composers of the time, Giuseppe Valentini, praised his “merito impareggiale” and confessed to being “Suo diuoto Seruo ammiratore della Sua Virtu” as we can read on the cover of Valentini’s Sonata in A Major, which is also in Pisendel’s collection. How this valuable and personal score, that once belonged to Montanari, ended up in Pisendel’s hands is a mystery.

Authenticated in 2005 as a piece by Pisendel, the Sonata in E major is a perfect exponent of the personal Pisendel’s style. It is very rarely performed, due to the relative novelty of the pisendelian paternity of the piece, and also because of the difficulty of reading the manuscript, which contains lots of annotations and corrections. However, these corrections add interest to the piece as recent studies suggest that they were made by Antonio Montanari, making the composition a perfect example of the musical experiences of Pisendel in Italy.

Florence. Fanfani

The Sonata in D by Fanfani was authenticated only in 2010. The life of this Florentine composer is still quite unknown. Pisendel learnt how to lead the orchestra from him and later became the best concertmaster in Europe. Pisendel refers to Fanfani as a rival of Vivaldi, and Quantz speaks very well of him in his autobiography. We present the very first recording of his Dresden Sonata. The modernity of this sonata is striking; although it was written before 1717, the final movement seems to be written in an almost galant style (a style popularized decades later), while the first two movements are written in a wonderful corellian style.

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More than an exciting recording project

This project is much more than recording CDs. We want to create something really original and special. The sound, the design, the booklet, this website, and the publication of the critical editions of all the music will make this project unique.

Recording with meaning. The Sound

Imagine the sound of a concert. The vibrations of the music sculpt the air and when the concert finishes, the sculpture is gone. Music is most alive when it is created. But there is something, almost magical, that allows us to catch this moment forever: recording. The way sound is captured is an essential part of the recording process. Through an original and deeply informed technique and a new approach to recording methods, our sound engineer will create a live and exciting image of the musical performance.

Beyond CD quality

Besides the traditional distribution of the CD on online platforms, the special process used in the recording will allow us to make extra quality recordings available for download. These recordings will have a superior quality that is not achievable on a CD and will provide a full listening experience.

Texts and music

It is very important to tell the story behind the pieces, so a full booklet essay will accompany each recording. We are aiming for high quality CD essays that sustain and enrich the musicological value that this repertoire already has as a final product of exciting artistic and academic research.


We want to publish the critical edition of all the music contained in the CD. This will be a significant complement to the entire work, providing an extra insight and a deeper knowledge of this repertoire.

Each piece will be transcribed into modern edition, making the performance possible for every musician, by correcting mistakes, comparing with other sources, including missing information or translating the old notation into modern conventions. Each score will be accompanied by notes about the piece: historical context, sources and edition procedures.

These editions will help introduce this new and relevant repertoire to the performance scene and to make this project an actual recovery process of an important part of the European musical heritage of the eighteenth century.

The Website

On this website you will find all the recordings, editions and text to download and the links to the physical editions. We will publish here videos, extra recordings, and more material related to the project.

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This project is a initiative of Scaramuccia. We need your help to make it real! Please consider making a donation to support this project. There are some bills to pay!

  • Recording and edition
  • Renting a venue for the recording
  • CD printing and distribution
  • This website: the domain and hosting are not free!

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